“What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” she said at a news conference in New Plymouth, describing the shooting as “an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
“Many of those affected may be migrants to New Zealand — they may even be refugees here,” Ms. Ardern said of the victims. “They are one of us. The person who has perpetrated these acts is not.”
“My thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those affected and their families,” the prime minister added.
— CHARLOTTE GRAHAM McLAY
Murders are rare in New Zealand, but guns aren’t
Murders are rare in New Zealand, and gun deaths even rarer. There were 35 murders countrywide in 2017. And since 2007, gun homicides have been in the single digits each year except 2009, when there were 11.
But there are plenty of guns.
There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the country of 4.6 million people in 2017, according to the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss nonprofit.
A mass shooting in the New Zealand in 1990 — when a man killed 13 people, including two 6-year-olds, after a dispute with his neighbor in the seaside town of Aramoana — led directly to tightened gun laws, including restrictions on “military style semiautomatic weapons.”
Gun owners must be licensed, a process that includes a review of criminal activity and mental health, attendance at a safety program, an explanation of how the gun would be used, a residence visit to ensure secure storage, and testimonials from relatives and friends.
Much like in the United States, gun laws remain a source of heated political debate.
— DANIEL VICTOR